Monday, April 30, 2012

Health pensions ballot result (really this time) - and it's rejection!

Health service members of UNISON have voted to reject the Government's miserly "final offer" on health service pensions (http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2685).



It's a narrow rejection (by 50.4% to 49.5%) on a low turnout (of 14.8%) but a rejection nonetheless. This is very important as, although our Head of Health says there "is no mandate to take further industrial action" (which is simply untrue as, in law, there is such a mandate) the Union has also to say that "there is no mandate to endorse the pension's proposals" and that "we need to consider the next steps in the pensions campaign and we will be talking to the other health unions."



The dispute over public sector pensions very much continues. The mood reflected in the ballot result (a deflated workforce, with morale at rock bottom, unwilling to accept an assault on their living standards but unconvinced that their Union has a strategy to defend them) is not so very far from the mood reported in the "rejectionist" unions earlier this year.



What differentiates UNISON from UNITE in the health service (or from PCS, UCU or the NUT) is not so much the morale or motivation of the membership as of the leadership. The message health workers are sending to UNISON in this ballot result is surely - "we don't want to work longer and pay more to get less and we want you, our leaders, to develop a strategy which we can believe in, to resist this attack."



In such circumstances it's a shame that we didn't have anything (not even a petition!) ready to launch immediately our members rejected the Government's offer. It's almost as if we weren't prepared for this eventuality. (We've had months now to recover from "strike fatigue"...)



Although some cynics did see indications last week that there might be just a little more combativity from the rank and file than might have been anticipated (http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2681)...

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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